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I would suspect this is just a part of the problem. There are probably several contributing factors.
Is this the type of application where every single page needs to be secure? Or, could you get by with just certain pages being on the [?...]
Depending on what you're offering, you could also try using a non-secure "doorway page" with options for the secure site and the non-secure site, and give explanations of the advantages of each. This has obvious negative consequences if you depend on SE traffic, and on most sites it would be poor usability as well. But I can imagine some applications where this would work.
I know a lot of times when I have gone onto a new site, FF asks me if I trust the validity of the site's certificate. I think being as your site would offer a new certificate to the user, if they get the same warning as I do with a cancel or continue option, a lot may cancel.
It is apparent I am no expert but sometimes it is the simple things that are to blame. I really don't know anything about certificates, it is just a personal experience.
How about rogue / amateur robots, teenie-boppers sucking down your whole site,
one-way spiders that suck bandwidth and never refer real traffic at all?
Couldn't that be part of the drop? -Larry
the drop in traffic was sudden
FF asks me if I trust the validity of the site's certificate
secure.mysite.tld...with a certificate signed for:
www.mysite.tld...will always give a warning dialog with every browser. That will scare away the very people that the certificate is designed for. As will an out-of-date certificate, of course.
until the last week of Aug. numbers dropped 20% that week and 20% the next week